So you want to eat seasonally, but it is Spring and not much is growing in your garden. Maybe you have a few greens, or some other cold-weather crop. My garden is not even planted, much less ready to harvest anything. That does not mean there is not anything available. Two foods abundant locally right now are Morels and rhubarb.
Morels sell for big bucks, but with a little education and a lot of luck you can find them for free. Foraging is great. It gets you outside, provides some exercise, and best of all FREE FOOD! Last year I scored 17 pounds of the little gems. This year the weather has been wacky and unseasonable warm. We did not get out early enough, but did still find a few.
I prepared a few fresh in last night's cream sauce and decided to preserve the rest. Last year I froze the extra, but since giving up Ziplocs and purchasing a dehydrator, drying was the route to go. They took a lot less time than I thought, only a few hours at 110 degrees. When it comes time to use them, all that is needed is a little warm water for reconstitution.
Finding Morels is a bit of a mystery. What is known is that they pop up in Spring, like moisture, and are usually found near dead or dying elm trees. A quick internet search will bring up an abundance of websites dedicated to finding the elusive Morchella. Morels.com is a useful one. Monitoring the discussion board for your state can give insight to when Morels are appearing. TheGreatMorel.com is another good one, offering tips on finding, harvesting, preparing, and preserving, even information on ticks. Luckily, we did not find any of these.
If you are not feeling up to trekking through the woods to forage mushrooms, there is another local food you can find right out in the open. Rhubarb.
Rhubarb grows like a weed in many areas. Some people have so much of it they are happy to give some away. This is the person you need to find. I was able to barter a six pack of beer for as much rhubarb as I wanted. I gladly filled my basket with the tart stalks.
Upon cutting to prepare for freezing I quickly realized that my lack of Ziplocs was going to pose a challenge. Luckily I have a stockpile of yogurt containers in the basement. They take up more room, but can be easily stacked in the freezer. Before placing in the yogurt containers I freeze the rhubarb cuts individually on baking sheets until hard, then transfer to the containers. This way the pieces stay loose and are easily removed and measured for baking tasty treats.
I am still cutting and freezing (perhaps I picked too much), but after enjoying a dish of Rhubarb Crunch last night I feel the extra work is worth it. Come January when no local fruit is available, all the work will be forgotten and only the tangy taste of Spring will remain. I will be grateful to have it. (Rhubarb is actually a vegetable, but most often treated as a fruit.)
Add whipped cream or ice cream and enjoy your seasonal treat!